Omicron 'storm' could push health systems 'to the brink', World Health Organization warns

'Omicron will dominate... with a threat to push already overwhelmed health systems further to the brink'

The World Health Organization has warned "another storm" of Covid infections is threatening Europe, as the Omicron variant spreads across the continent.

Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Europe regional director, listed the UK as one of the countries where the variant "is becoming or already has become dominant".

The UK, Denmark and Portugal are seeing the numbers of Omicron cases "doubling every 1.5 to 3 days," Dr Kluge warned, "generating previous unseen transmission rates."

On Tuesday the UK once again reported more than 90,000 confirmed Covid cases - the fourth time in less than a week. The total number of Omicron cases has now climbed to at least 60,508.

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"Within weeks, Omicron will dominate in more countries of the region, with a threat to push already overwhelmed health systems further to the brink," the health expert warned.

Though pointing to "early evidence" that suggested vaccines "continue to do their job" against the variant, Dr Kluge warned: "The sheer volume of new Covid-19 infections could lead to more hospitalisations and disruption of other critical health services."

His comments come as Boris Johnson confirmed England would see no new Covid measures before Christmas Day, but this was caveated with his pledge to "take action" if the situation worsens.

"In view of the continuing uncertainty about several things – the severity of Omicron, uncertainty about the hospitalisation rate or the impact of the vaccine rollout or the boosters, we don’t think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas," Mr Johnson said in a video message recorded by Downing Street.

If the "situation deteriorates", Mr Johnson said, the government will be poised to "take action".